Your core enjoyment of life – happiness, fulfillment, excitement, that fundamental experience motivating you to keep living – has to be internal. You can’t depend on anybody or anything but the way you choose to live your life for it.
Enjoyment from a Woman and the Fear of Being Alone
With the most recent girl I’ve talked to, I realized I was afraid of losing her and wanted to “lock her down” – even if only in a long, slow-building process of get-to-know-you.
Part of that was a lack of self-acceptance, but I’ve come to see part of it is a lack of self to accept.
My self is reflected in everything about my life: the things I choose to do, the people I choose to do them with, the reasons by which I choose. Like I said in my earlier post, “Those things are the reflection of my mind answering a question: yes or no? Like or dislike? Approve or disapprove?” Having a self is having likes, loves, interests I pursue that all add up to a life I love, and a focus on building such a life.
But an equally important component is choosing values to comprise this life that don’t undermine my self. I’ve been choosing values that do.
I have likes, loves and interests, and I have a focus on building such a life (as opposed to selflessly serving God/others, etc.); but I was choosing an improper goal as the source of my enjoyment: a woman.
While it’s true that relationships can provide immense enjoyment (potentially the highest in one’s life), they can’t provide my central enjoyment – that core enjoyment without which life is complete drudgery and not worth continuing.
Relationships are out of my control. I bring a lot to them, but they depend on another being with free will. I can win that being, but I can’t control her.
If my central enjoyment of life comes from her – if I have no reason to desire anything if I can’t have a woman in my life – then I’ve placed my desire to live out of my control. The fuel I need to survive now comes exclusively from something I can’t control. That’s a recipe for major fear and insecurity.
When I have a picture-perfect, problem-free relationship with a great woman, there’s no issue. I can enjoy my life, and thus have the fuel to work hard toward my goals and build the life of my dreams.
But that relationship could change at any time. The second it looks like it might, things go downhill. I get fearful and insecure.
After all, she is my ability to enjoy life. Without her life is dull drudgery. I lose the fuel source on which I run; I’ll run out of gas eventually.
Thus the need to lock her down, to interact with her regularly, to spend all my time with her – even when things are great: she’s my only means of enjoying life. Thus the fear of being alone.
The problem is that acting on fear precipitates the very thing I fear so much. When I put so much reliance (read: pressure) on her, I’ll either drive her away, drive her out of existence as I keep needing her to forego her interests and live for my needs, or drive myself out of existence living for her. Either way, I won’t be able to keep anybody for long, and those scenarios will keep happening so long as women are the core source of my enjoyment.
By choosing a woman as the source of my enjoyment, I was choosing to abdicate myself. Instead of finding activities I enjoy, I make her the enjoyment. Then she either has to drop her self and be everything I desire (she has to express my self) or I have to subdue any misgivings or dislikes I have about her and agree with her (I have to express her self). One of us has to be destroyed.
(Not to mention, if I don’t see her in the world I don’t even know she exists, and my doubts become more legitimate the longer I go without seeing. When my core motivation can turn entirely on and off, based on nothing but the women I interact with, that leaves my will to live in a fundamentally insecure position.)
It’s Not Just With Women
The point is wider than relationships. Anything – a person, an endgoal, a career, an object, any specific external thing outside of my complete control – that I try to substitute as my central source of enjoyment will lead to the same end. If I depend on the pursuit of a long-term career goal, I’ll fear not having a goal. I’ll have to repress any misgivings I have about the goal to avoid the fear, writing my self out of existence to become it, achieving nothing but aimlessness and suffering.
By chaining my core motivation to any specific external thing, I put myself in a place where I fear losing it. Then acting on that fear precipitates itself.
Dissolving Them All
How do I dissolve the host of fears that stem from having only external sources of enjoyment? By creating an entirely internal source of enjoyment. What source is that? The enjoyment of self-expression.
Self-expression is choosing how you’re going to interact with the world: What goals will you pursue? How will you pursue them? Will you be kind and cordial, brusque and stiff, mean and spiteful? What code of ethics will you strive to uphold – Objectivism, Christianity, one of the many others? What standards are you using to choose these things – logic and reason, or emotion and divine intuition? Will you stay up late most nights, or get up early most mornings?
It’s choosing the style of your life: will you talk like a drawing-room gentleman or a high society lady, a truck driver, an academic, someone else? Will you slouch and shuffle, stand erect and step confidently? Will you choose Disney or Cartoon Network, Rachmaninoff or Picasso, Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty?
Which values will you choose as fundamental to your character – the ones you’d fight the entire world on if need be? Which ones do you have no opinion on because you’ve decided they don’t matter?
Every single choice you make, action you take, and reason behind them is an act of self-expression.
The peaks you may reach are great, but they’re a secondary, more transient layer. The fundamental enjoyment is in the act of designing and doing. It’s the thought and the actions. The things you and only you control, that depend on nobody else.
As you build a self you love, this fear will slowly start to fall away. Being alone won’t be a problem anymore, but one of your greatest pleasures.